According to statistics, 41 per cent of the UK adult population snore. That’s almost 15 million snorers in the UK. And, if you do the maths, means almost another 15 million are affected by it. And guess what? Men are to blame. Yep, over 10 million of us rattle and hum during lights out compared to just 5 million women.
We have enough trouble doing the right things when we are awake – it seems we can’t even get sleeping right! But we’re about to put a stop to that. It’s time to readdress the balance; we’re here to put snoring to bed, for good. As a result, your own sleep will improve, as will your health and your partner won’t spend half the night kicking you in the back.
Consider this your ultimate guide.
Step 1: Make sure your snoring isn’t a sign of an underlying health issue
Simply put: snoring occurs when your breath can’t flow freely through the passages behind your nose and mouth. Sometimes, it can be “a sign of a much more serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea,” says Dr Rita Aouad, a sleep medicine specialist. “OSA is a respiratory disorder that occurs in sleep when the airway narrows or closes, causing oxygen levels in the blood to fall.”
If left untreated, OSA can lead to:
Fortunately, “OSA can be easily treated with CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) to keep the airway open while you sleep,” Aouad says. “If you suspect OSA, talk to your doctor about seeing a sleep specialist.”
Once you’ve ruled out OSA, you can explore some of these easy ways to stop snoring for good.
Watch: 7 useful ways to stop snoring
Step 2: Identify the types of snoring
Gathering intel is key in the war against the snore. Snoring can be differentiated into four types depending on the blocked passageway:
1. Nose snorers suffer from a partially blocked nasal passage
2. Throat snorers have a partially blocked airway
3. Palate snorers account for 80% of snorers, with an elongated or thick soft palate at the back of the mouth
4. Combination snorers are a mixture of two or all three.
Step 3: Things you can do to stop snoring
Before heading to the pharmacist and handing over your hard-earned cash, there are a few things you can do that may help reduce your snoring.
One of the biggest causes of snoring is being overweight, making noisy sleepers a symptom of an increasingly unhealthy population. “This excess weight often gathers around the throat which, even in small amounts, can contribute to restricting the airway,” says sleep expert Dr Kamani. If you’re looking for tips to banish your snoring, there’s never been a better time to start shifting pounds.
Cut back on booze:
Ever wonder why your partner claims your bed-ridden rumblings are much worse after a few pints? Dr Kamani explains alcohol is a relaxant, which causes the muscles in your throat to soften, creating an airway obstruction.
Booze may be out, but what about the accompanying curry? Forget it. “Eating spicy food could cause acid reflux, which could make your snoring worse,” says Kamani. The US Snoring Centre in Dallas found that acid reflux causes sinus problems, coughing and chest pains at night because acid and undigested food particles travel back up through the airway when lying prone, causing blockages that create snoring problems. Turns out that night out with your mates isn’t going to wait until morning to take its toll on your body.
Get off your back:
Even sleeping on your back can cause your tongue to roll backwards, blocking your airway further. It’s the reson your partner is right to roll you onto your side.
Don’t let the dust settle:
A blocked nasal passage may also be a product of your environment. We’re not talking hayfever, it’s your filthy room that’s to blame. “Dust can irritate the nasal passage, causing the body to create a barrier of mucus blocking it,” says Kamani. “When we are asleep our only option then is to breathe through our mouths, increasing the likelihood that we will snore.” Small tweaks to your sleep environment can have a big impact. Change your sheets at least once a week and vacuum regularly to avoid clogging your nasal passages with dust. Next, stack some pillows behind you to keep you sleeping on your side.
“Smoking causes mucus to build up and can make breathing more difficult,” says Kamani. Need some help? We’ve got a few life-hacks to kick-start your smoke-free regime.
Step 4: Things you can buy to help you stop snoring
Over the counter products can help, but this is where it pays to identify what kind of snorer you are: nose snorers can avoid the throat spray, and throat snorers should ditch the nasal strips. The British Snoring & Sleep Association have an interactive test to ID your passage problems so you can hone in on the root of your noise.
Here are some of the best products you can buy over the counter that’ll help put an end to snoring.
Nasal strips and nasal dilators:
These devices may help widen your nasal passages, making it easier for air to flow through unobstructed.
Nasal strips like Breathe Right (£13.99, buy it here) adhere to the outside of the nose and pull your airways open. Nasal dilators like this anti-snoring device (£6.99, buy it here) go inside your nostrils and gently push your airways open.
Anti-snoring mouthpieces “may also be effective,” Aouad says. These devices typically work by adjusting the positions of your jaw and tongue to help you breathe more easily, and thus prevent snoring. You can try this ZQuiet anti-snoring treatment for £36.99 (Buy it here).
Step 5: Surgery
“Surgery may be an option, but I would recommend this as a last resort if all other options have failed,” Aouad says.
“If upper airway crowding is the cause of snoring, then surgery such a uvulopalatopharyngeoplasty (UP3) may be considered. This is a procedure that removes the uvula and nearby tissue to open up the airway,” she explains. “If nasal septum deviation is the cause of the snoring, then septoplasty may be an option.
“As with all surgeries, these procedures are associated with risks, including but not limited to, infection and bleeding,” she adds, so these options should only be considered in severe cases.